by Mark Rosendorf
Fiction: Science Fiction
College student Alexander Copeland worked as an assistant for astronomer Gordon Maxwell. Alex was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – to join a small civilian crew and travel to outer space to investigate a mysterious wormhole presumed to have been created by an alien species. But the top-secret government division sponsoring Dr. Maxwell’s research abruptly canceled the expedition and closed down the entire project.
Seven years later, twenty-five-year-old Alex, working as a New York inner-city junior high school science teacher, is contacted by the same arrogant government project director who tells him the original space expedition has been revived. Alex is offered a seat on an advanced space shuttle christened Status Quo, set to go through the wormhole. But Alex is immediately suspicious. After seven years, why is the project suddenly on again?
Alex’s new shipmates only add to his anxiety. Sara Maxwell, gifted daughter of the late Dr. Maxwell, has spent the last seven years in a mental institution. The ship’s pilot is a teenage boy whose only flight experience is on a simulator. The pilot’s mother, also chosen as a crewmember, is supposedly psychic. The ship’s doctor is a novice who wants nothing to do with the mission. A troubled teenage girl on the brink of suicide is also accepted as part of the crew. There’s even a convicted murderer and a cat aboard. Absolutely no one chosen for this mission has any sort of astronaut training or experience. And worst of all, the project director’s agenda appears to be making sure that the ship and all aboard never return to Earth.
It’s a conspiracy that leaves these lost souls stranded in a strange galaxy with a damaged ship surrounded by threats both human and alien. Even if this group worked together and managed to survive, could they – would they – return to the uncaring world that sent them to space to die? With the alternative looking exceedingly grim, the journey of Status Quo seems doomed. Or is it?
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